New research conducted by Dr. Stacy Wood at North Carolina State University indicates that people high in empathy were more supportive of social innovations of companies who solve social needs, while people high in openness were more supportive of technological innovations.
Critical to their success, social entrepreneurs face the challenge of capturing stakeholder support – from consumers to legislators and volunteers. This new research attempts to examine whether personality influences a person’s tendency to support innovative social entrepreneurial ventures.
The survey asked consumers about six different ventures: three featured innovations that were more social in nature and three more technological in nature.
The “Big Five” personality traits (OCEAN: openness, conscientiousness, extroversion, agreeableness, and neuroticism) are examined. In line with prior research, particular focus is on openness (an OCEAN trait) and empathy (a non-OCEAN trait).
While many personality traits do not influence a respondent’s intent to support the venture, the findings suggest that people high in empathy and openness were better able to envision the big changes that could occur through innovations and that “bigger change is better” in this area.
“Given the diversity of the social enterprises considered,” according to Dr. Wood, “it is amazing that any one personality trait was so influential. I hope that these findings aid social entrepreneurs by helping them better use their limited marketing resources to identify and target those people who are most likely to support them.”
The article can be found in the Spring 2012 issue of the Journal of Public Policy & Marketing, entitled ”Prone to Progress: Using Personality to Identify Supporters of Innovative Social Entrepreneurship”.
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